The Plastic Surgery Foundation
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Grants We Funded

In 2019, The Plastic Surgery Foundation (The PSF) awarded 33 investigator-initiated projects and allocated $891,274 to support the newest, clinically relevant research in plastic surgery.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons/PSF leadership is committed to continuing to provide high levels of investigator-initiated research support to ensure that plastic surgeons have the needed research resources to be pioneers and innovators in advancing the practice of medicine.

Research Abstracts

Search The PSF database to have easy access to full-text grant abstracts from past PSF-funded research projects 2003 to present. All abstracts are the work of the Principal Investigators and were retrieved from their PSF grant applications. Several different filters may be applied to locate abstracts specific to a particular focus area, or PSF funding mechanism.

Nerve Regeneration following Composite Tissue Allotransplantation

Principal Investigator
Louis Poppler MD, MSCI


Washington University in St. Louis

Funding Mechanism
Research Fellowship

Focus Area
Composite Tissue Allotransplantation, Peripheral Nerve

Composite tissue allotransplantation (CTA) can reconstruct major tissue loss injuries and may reduce limitations of conventional reconstructive techniques including poor functional outcomes, patient morbidity, prolonged rehabilitation and multiple operations. To date, 61 hand and 16 facial transplants have been performed with varying results. Failure to achieve consistent and predictable neurologic function in CTAs persists. Nerve regeneration in CTA is poorly understood and is critical to its functional success. This project seeks to define mechanisms that affect nerve regeneration. Nerve recovery after transplantation involves appropriate and timely re-innervation of neural targets by the recipient nerve and can be affected by many factors, especially the inflammatory response of nerve and its surrounding tissues. Immuno-suppression can change inflammatory responses. This study will investigate how cytokine and nerve growth factor expression differs following simple nerve injury or CTA with and without differing immuno-suppression regimens. It will also compare expression of these molecules and the histology of healing transplanted nerves with transplant muscle strength.

To achieve these aims we will perform a prospective cohort study in which we transplant limbs of rats whose nerves appear fluorescent under the microscope. We will serially measure levels of cytokines and nerve growth factors, look at the healing nerves under the microscope and test the strength of the muscles these nerves re-innervate. These rats will be divided into groups that receive differing immunosuppressive regimens. Differing responses in these groups will be compared and ultimately correlated with final functional outcomes. This will allow us to draw conclusions regarding the role of different cytokines, growth factors, and immuno-suppression regimens and their timing play in determining final functional outcomes in CTA. This will help make tissue transplantation more predictable.

Dr. Louis Poppler is a plastic surgery resident at Washington University in St. Louis. His academic interest is focused in hand and peripheral nerve surgery. He is currently completing a two year post-doctoral research fellowship investigating ways to improve nerve regeneration under the guidance of Dr. Susan MacKinnon. He is also pursuing a master’s degree in translational research with a project exploring the role of peroneal nerve compression in patient falls. Dr. Poppler attended medical school at the University of Washington where he led community outreach programs, was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha, and developed an interest in plastic surgery working in the burn unit and researching replant surgery epidemiology.